Former Ireland outhalf Paddy Jackson is set to team up again with two of his former coaches when he joins London Irish over the summer, WRITES RICHARD MULLIGAN.
The English club have just secured their return to the Premiership and director of rugby Declan Kidney moved swiftly for the former Ulster ace when he knew he would be available after one season with French Top 14 side Perpignan.
The 27-year-old Jackson earned the first of his 25 Irish caps while Kidney was at the helm of the Ireland National side in 2013.
London Irish’s head coach is Les Kiss, who Jackson also worked with in the Ireland set-up when Kiss was defence coach and later at Ulster.
It is just over a year since the 27-year-old’s contract with the Irish RFU was terminated in the wake of being found not guilty of rape after a trial.
He and team mate Stuart Olding were acquitted, but they were subsequently sacked over messages exchanged via text and social media, which were revealed in court.
Irish have not revealed the length of Jackson’s contract with the club.
Yesterday Jackson told London Irish official club website: “I’m delighted to be joining London Irish next season at such an exciting and pivotal time for everyone involved with the club.
“London Irish have a clear vision for where they want to be and I look forward to being part of it and can’t wait to get started,” he added.
On acquiring a player of Jackson’s ability, Kidney remarked: “Players of the calibre of Paddy Jackson do not become available very often and both myself and Les are looking forward to working with him in the future.
“He is a player with proven international quality who we feel will add value to our squad, and it is pleasing that Paddy sees London Irish as a part of his future,” he added.
In addition to Jackson, Irish have recruited Sean O’Brien from Leinster, Alan Dell from Edinburgh and Waratahs’ trio Nick Phipps, Sekope Kepu and Curtis Riona.